Air Force Times
By: Stephen Losey
June 30, 2017
Thornton and his leader fought for 33 minutes, braving "the ever-increasing hailstorm of anti-aircraft fire," and destroyed or demobilized three T-72 tanks, six armored personnel carriers and several utility vehicles that were within striking distance of the U.S. troops, the citation said.In the opening days of the Iraq war, soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment were advancing on Baghdad when they ran into fierce resistance from the Iraqis.
Tanks and armored infantry fighting vehicles dug in on the eastern side of a bridge across the Tigris River unloaded on the troops.
In his A-10 Thunderbolt overhead, then-Capt. Gregory Thornton saw the task force's lead element taking fire and swung into action. He flew through a blinding sandstorm, dodged heavy anti-aircraft fire, and took out the Iraqi armor holding back the troops.
On Friday, Thornton — now a retired lieutenant colonel — will be honored for his bravery that day, April 6, 2003, by receiving the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest award for valor.
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